From an email I got a while back, from a friend, who got it from a friend etc.
"The function of the thyroid gland is not to set the temperature of the body, but to control the temperature of the brain. The actual temperature of the body or torso, is secondary and only based on the temperature state or circadian rhythm state of the brain.
The thyroid gland acts as a multiple-stage thermostat computer which controls the temperature of the brain. But what sets the thermostat temperature is the feedback from the sleep/wake circadian rhythm center in the hypothalamus in the brain. This is similar to setting your house temperature thermostat up during the day, and then setting it back to a lower temperature at night while you sleep. Some people today even have computerized thermostats to automatically set the temperature up and down at the right time of day. But no computerized thermostat is as accurate and multi-staged as is your natural computerized thermostat - your thyroid gland.
Most of the glands in your body work by releasing chemicals called hormones which remotely control numerous function in other parts of your body. Most of your glands are either in your brain, in the hypothalamus, or in your abdomen such as your liver, pancreas or adrenal glands. The location of the thyroid gland is unique. It is in the front of your throat just below the "Adam's apple." Why is it there?
It is there to constantly measure and compare the temperature of the outside air around you which goes through the bronchial tube which is attached to the back of the thyroid gland. It is there also to measure and compare the temperature of the blood in the two carotid arteries going directly from the heart to the brain. The two left and right carotid arteries pass right through the center of the the left and right lobes of your thyroid gland. Is the function, location and purpose of the thyroid gland, as a brain thermostat starting to make sense?
How does the thyroid gland work? Assume that the thyroid senses that the brain temperature is correct but the air temperature around you starts to rise several degrees. To counteract the small rise in temperature the thyroid gland, specifically the small rice grain-sized mini-glands called the "parathyroids" in each lobe of the thyroid gland release a hormone which makes the lining of the lungs more permeable to the water in your blood serum. This extra water in your lungs quickly evaporates and cools the lungs with each breath you take. Since all of your blood also travels through the lungs every several seconds, this effectively cools your blood, brain and body.
If the outside air temperature goes a few degrees higher and even the blood temperature starts to rise, the thyroid gland kicks in with the second stage of its function. It releases a hormone which acts on your largest organ - your skin. At first, it opens the blood vessels in the skin to dump heat directly to the air, this is called a reddening or flushing of the skin, and the skin feels warm to the touch. A few more degrees rise in temperature and the thyroid sends other hormones which tell the millions of small glands in the skin called sweat glands to take water from the blood and dump the water onto the skin surface where it evaporates and cools the body - but really it is not just to cool the body, but is cooling the blood going to your brain. The brain temperature is the critical temperature.
You want proof? Stick your arm in a bucket of warm water with a temperature of 110 degrees F (43C) and it feels uncomfortable, but no big deal. But raise your brain temperature to 110F and you'll pass out and die. What else can I say? The purpose of the thyroid is to control brain temperature, and not body temperature. A third stage of thyroid function, beyond sweating, is to increase the breathing rate, called panting, to increase the amount of heat being evaporated from the lungs to the air. Many animals which don't sweat, such as birds, furry animals and dogs, go directly from increased lung evaporation to panting. Very active dogs even dump a large amount of heat by expelling lots of hot water, called drooling. The hot drool water may be dumped directly on the ground or even on to the pet owners face in a show of "hot blooded" affection for the pup's owner. Isn't the thyroid a wondrous gland?
When the outside air becomes colder, the thyroid again goes through several stages of hormone production depending on the amount of temperature difference between the air and the brain. First, the amount of water from the blood serum going into the lungs is reduced. You surely have noticed that on very cold days, you can "see" your breath as the warm moist air from your lungs condenses into visible "steamy breath." You probably never noticed that after several minutes you can't see your breath anymore. Why? That's because your thyroid has shut off the supply of water in your lungs. You don't want to lose any body heat which can escape by evaporation in the lungs. This tends to dry out your lungs and sometimes this makes breathing in very cold air rather painful, since the lining of the lung becomes dry and stiff.
In a second stage, another set of thyroid hormones constrict all the blood vessels in the skin so the skin appears ashy white and pale and feels cold to the touch. No body heat is lost through the skin. In a third stage, the body generates heat by physically moving the muscles through involuntary shivering, and later in a fourth stage even increases the metabolic rate to generate more internal body heat. The thyroid gland is an incredibly complex biological thermostat with about ten or more temperature set points and chemical hormone functions. The normal set points go up and down each day with the daily sleep/wake cycles of the circadian rhythms. And the thyroid also is a major component of the body's immune system by raising the temperature of the body and lungs to create fevers which stop and prevent the replication of invading viruses at a temperature above about 101F. Without a thyroid gland and fevers we would all die of bird flu. Birds are more primitive animals and only have simple prototype thyroid glands which don't work the same way our mammal thyroids work. The birds don't sweat and usually don't produce fevers. That's why birds can die of viral bird flu by the millions. This almost never happens with humans.
It was while doing experiments with the normal operation of the thyroid gland that I discovered the "Thyroid Paradox." I was trying to discover how the operation of the thyroid gland could be manipulated to modify, change or shift the normal circadian rhythms. In 1988 I worked with a octor/psychiatrist in San Jose, Californina, who was interested my my charts and data of my own daily, monthly and annual circadian rhythms based on my observations of my oral temperature which I took hourly and wrote down on several pages of my daily temperature journal. I am sure most of my friends, family and co-workers must have thought I was a real hypochondriac since I took my temperature every hour on the hour for several years from 1986 to 1989, and I even wrote it down. But it was a treasure trove of scientific data.
The protocol for the experiment I proposed with the doctor was that I would use the synthetic thyroid drug, Synthroid, to shift my circadian rhythms to an earlier awakening time by taking Synthroid in the morning at the new earlier time. I took the usual thyroid panel of medical tests to show that I had normal thyroid function and the doc wrote me a prescription for a big bottle of Synthroid. As a control experiment, I also did this test alternately each week with other protocols: using only very bright lights in the morning at the new time, then the next week using only L-Tryptophan capsules, then a week of Synthroid, and then a week of Tryptophan with added B6.
Each morning I took a dose of bright light or pills, and took my oral temperature every 15 minutes for the next hour. I graphed the first-hour rise time of my body-brain temperature for each protocol. The bright lights and the L-Tryptophan worked perfectly and caused an hour earlier shift to occur on Tuesday, after starting each protocol on Monday. On the weekends I used nothing and allowed my circadian waking time to slip back to the later normal time. With the Synthroid, it seemed to work just like the Light and the L-tryptophan for two days and then it seemed to fade away to nothing by the fourth day. At no time did the tryptophan with the B6 ever work, even when I drastically increased the dosage. This absolutely proved that the B6 had destroyed the beneficial effect of the tryptophan by turning it into Niacin before it ever even got to the brain.
I explained my observations to my co-experimenter doctor and asked if I could increase the dose of Synthroid. He approved. Again I observed the same thing. I had doubled the dose from 50mg to 100mg. It seemed to work on Tuesday and Wednesday, but by Thursday it took almost an hour for the brain temperature to show a rise, and by Friday it had no effect. On the next monthly cycle of the Synthroid experiment, I again increased the dosage to 200mg and a month later to 400mg. All with the same effect. It worked for two days and by the fourth day it did absolutely nothing, regardless of dosage.
I discussed the results, my charts and data logbooks at length with the doctor. I said I presumed that the thyroid gland is not the master gland which controls body temperature, as is assumed by most of the medical profession. There must be some higher gland, probably in the hypothalamus of the brain which sets the instantaneous changing daily temperature-setpoint for the thyroid.
This made sense, because it has been known for decades that the circadian rhythms are somehow driven by the daytime serotonin and nighttime melatonin which come from the Pineal Gland just above the Hypothalamus. This is why taking tryptophan in the morning as you wake up sets the new circadian rhythm, since both serotonin and melatonin are made in the Pineal from tryptophan depending on the time of day you take the tryptophan - without the B6, of course.
What I had demonstrated was that I had developed a new psychological and physiological tool for measuring normal and aberrant behavior of chemicals in the brain simply by monitoring the rise time of the brain temperature in the first hour of the morning. This was scientific and repeatable. I repeated the same experiment for almost two years. My scientific method was light-years ahead of the commonly used Hamilton Psychological Scale method of using a survey to ask, "On a scale of 1 to 5, after taking Sythroid do you feel better or worse than you did yesterday?" Well, I don't know, that's like asking on a scale of 1 to 5 how do you rate Wolfgang Mozart over Peter Gabriel? Well, I don't know - depends on my mood, and if I just aced my midterm exam or if the IRS just called me in for a tax audit. So much, for the Hamilton Scale. No way does that compare with the scientific slope of the line on the morning rise time temperature chart I told the doc I wanted to use my new numerically scientific psychological tool to continue the experiment using other drugs which would directly affect the temperature set point in the brain and not just in the thyroid. At that point the doctor balked. He seemed to lose interest in the experiment. I assumed, even though he was the doctor and I wasn't, I had already gone beyond his level of expertise and he had no idea what to do next. He had said he had studied the Pineal/Thyroid axis in his last year of med school at Stanford, but I don't think he really understood what it meant or how it worked. After that, he even refused to answer my phone calls. I also realized I had just done a medical no-no. I had just used the scientific method to demonstrate that most doctors have no clue about what they are doing to their patients. And my co-experimenter doctor certainly did not want to co-publish a scientific paper showing that most docs are dopes.
Millions of times a year, patients go into the doctor's office complaining of mild depression. After a Hamilton Scale test the doc says, "Yep, a mild case of depression. Here try this prescription for Synthroid. It usually works, and if not we can try something stronger." Several days later the patient calls the doc -- "It's wonderful. It works, It works. I woke up this morning feeling all bright and bushytailed and rarin' to go." What neither the patient nor the doctor knows is that after several days, the Synthroid is as useless as a placebo Sugar pill. But the patient, "believing" that it works, will continue taking it for years. Normally taking placebos is safe. But in this case the patient is "hooked" on a placebo which can cost several thousand dollars a year. I consider that a serious side affect which only helps Big Pharma and not the patient.
An even worse, though a less common situation is when a patient comes to see the doctor complaining of always feeling warm, always sweaty, feeling jumpy and nervous a lot, and a few other similar related symptoms. The doc says, "Oh you have hyper-thyroidism. Your thyroid gland is putting out too much thyroid hormone. We can fix that." So the doc gets out his set of X-acto knives and starts whittling on your thyroid gland as if he were carving a balsa wood kit model of a Piper Centurion - and if he carves on it just right he thinks he might just be able to get this puppy to fly. Yeah right.
Most docs are taught that the thyroid gland is like most other glands, like the liver, pancreas or adrenals, and if you carve away a part of it, that will reduce the output of that gland's hormone. Wrong! The thyroid is more like 10 different glands, all in one, each with its own temperature set point and specific hormone to change the amount of water in the lungs, or to cause sweating of the skin or cause the muscles to shiver, and many other physical functions. The thyroid is not just like a fine Swiss watch, it is more like a fine Swiss chronometer with hundreds of gears and dials for navigating a ship around the world, many more than most docs know and understand. Carving on a thyroid with X-acto knives is more like trying to adjust your computerized automatic setback wall thermostat for your furnace with a sledge hammer. Your original complaint was the temperature was too high. So the doc hits the thermostat with a sledge hammer and, sure enough, the furnace goes off, and temperature goes down. So far so good. But then what?
In the case of the smashed furnace wall thermostat, you replace it with a simple light switch to turn the furnace on and off. When its too cold you turn the switch on to turn the furnace on, and then later you turn it off to cool the house. But you are constantly jumping up and down trying to adjust the temperature. You probably would wish you had your old thermostat back. In the case of your carved-on thyroid gland you are constantly adjusting your medication dosage of Synthroid, trying to get a normal body temperature depending on your circadian rhythms, or whether you usually have a sedentary day job and then have vigorous outside activity while mountain climbing on your vacation. Or even if you move from one climate to another which is much colder or hotter. You are hooked on Synthroid for the rest of your life, and probably wish you had your old thyroid back again.
Alright, so what would I do instead? I have already mentioned two protocols, using bright lights in the morning just as you wake up for about _ hour, or take a 500mg capsule of L-tryptophan just as you wake up and about _ hour before you ingest anything else such as coffee or breakfast. I have tested both of these methods for 20 years and they are both effective, and you can even use both together. There is no overdosing of good health.
You can buy very expensive "morning bright lights" from "medical con-artists" who make outrageous claims for their product. They cost about $300 dollars or more. I made my first home-built bright lite in 1986, using 8 fluorescent tubes and a box for about $100 dollars. I got the design and specification from Dr. Albert Lewey, a renowned specialist in SAD therapy. I found it worked as specified when I used it in an experiment to shift my circadian rhythms forward or back several hours, but I wanted something rather less expensive that I could recommend to my friends. You can buy a bright light that works just as well for about $10.00 from any Home Depot, warehouse hardware store or even on the Internet.
The name of the bright light product by many makers is "500 W Portable Halogen Work Light." If it's made by Bayco or similar brand name you know you have found the right one if it sells for about $9.00 plus shipping and handling. One caution though, they get real hot, so be careful where you set it, since it can melt plastic if it gets to close. I use it about 4 to 5 feet away from me. And at that distance my luminosity meter shows it has the same 20,000 to 30,000 Lux as the rising sun, and even Dr. Lewey's original medical morning light specification. It works and its cheap. I set mine on an automatic timer for the first half hour each morning next to my computer. I have used mine every morning since 1987.
It used to be that you could not buy L-tryptophan at any price, even if you tried through "underground" sources since the CDC, FDA ban dating from November 1989. For many years it was only marketed for use by farm animals, but since it was USP certified for purity and dosage is was actually safer than the old L-tryptophan sold in drug and health stores prior to 1989. It seems the USDA and the farm industry was more concerned about the health and safety of farm animals, than was the FDA and CDC for the health of human beings. It seems the FDA and CDC wanted to market the potentially harmful and very expensive Prozac and SSRI's so that Big Pharma can make about $30 billion a year, instead of using the cheap and safer natural L-tryptophan.
A computer search on the Internet will now show hundreds of sources for L-tryptophan. Make sure the product says "USP." "Pure," and "500mg." You do not want any added minerals, vitamins or amino acids. NO added anything. Use it only first thing in the morning when you wake up, or last thing at night before you go to bed. In the morning it makes serotonin, and at night it makes melatonin - during the transition into and from sleep. That is your circadian rhythm clock. You can kick it up in the morning or down at night. It really works the same way. Its the same as pushing a child on a swing. It makes no difference whether you push from the front or back, but you have to push in the right direction and at the right time. Do both if you want, since you can't overdose with the L-tryptophan. I have found that after several days of use, a maintenance daily dose can be as low as 50 to 100 mg. I have tried cutting the 500mg gel capsules in half, and sometimes filling my own 100 mg capsules. I have even found it works to take a large capsule every other day. But that complicates matters, since you have to remember what day it is when you first wake up. Hmm let's see, yesterday was Tuesday in France so today must be Wednesday in Germany -- or is it Thursday in Italy. I'll have to wake up and read the newspaper to figure that one out. I keep it simple. One capsule, of any size, every morning, and then get on with my life.
So now you know more about the Science of the thyroid gland and circadian rhythms than you'll find in any medical textbook or scientific journal. But what about the "Thyroid Paradox?" That's coming next. It is a set of simple experiments, or even simple therapy you can do anytime yourself or in the doctors office. It takes almost no time, and costs practically no money, just using stuff you have around the house. It will show to you that your body and brain are working according to "manufacturers specification" and if not, what you can do about it -- Such a deal!
My earlier explanation about the function of brain temperature and the sleep/wake cycle prompted one astute reader, named Suzanne, to ask if raising the brain temperature would bring patients out of a long term coma.
Here's what I explained:
Suzanne -- I have looked at that problem and I'm not sure if works for coma. When we are awake, we can close our eyes and see daydream images. But we are still awake. The closing of eyes causes slow alpha waves which open up neural connections to the right side of the brain where images are processed.
When we are asleep, the functioning of the left logical side of the brain which processes muscle motion is not stopped, but the left brain signals are temporarily disconnected, mostly so we don't actually do physical activity like sleep walking. So at that time all we have is the signals from the right side of the brain which process images we call dreams.
In the case of coma, it seems that the left side of the brain is not functioning, as when asleep, And the lack of motor function can be caused by physical damage to the brain or other causes such as hypnotic suggestion which can also shut off the brain. This can also be self-caused in the case of swooning or fainting.
The other condition of coma which is different from sleep is that the patient cannot be aroused as from normal sleep. If the temporary coma-like condition is from swooning and fainting, then smelling salts or ammonia seem to arouse the patient. But in actual coma this does not seem to work.
Thus, probably what would determine if a coma patient can be aroused by raising the brain temperature is if there is brain activity in the right brain indicating that dreaming is occurring. If both sides of the brain are disconnected electrically but still functioning, with only the lower brain stem working to maintain basic body function such as breathing then it may not work to simply raise the brain temperature.
Since I am the first person to notice the relationship between consciousness and brain temperature, nobody has done any research in this area. I hope my articles might entice some enterprising medical researchers to experiment and take a look at the possibility."